Money Power: Smartphone apps help make travel easy
BY SUSANNAH SNIDER Money Power
Sunday, June 24, 2012
6/24/12 at 3:03 AM
Scores of smartphone apps make locating gas stations, roadside eateries and last-minute hotel rooms easy. But you'll get even more mileage from our favorites. They'll steer you around traffic jams, help you manage an emergency and point you toward scenic hiking trails. All are free.
Moving down the highway: With gas prices painfully high, finding cheap fill-ups and avoiding traffic snarls will keep your wallet and passengers happy. Tell GasBuddy (Android, BlackBerry, iPhone and Windows Phone) your location and it will display the lowest fuel prices nearby. If you own an electric car, download CarStations (Android, iPhone) to find recharging stations.
GPS apps are a dime a dozen. But for additional navigational muscle, check out AAA's TripTik (Android, iPhone), which bolsters your directions by including AAA-approved restaurants, repair shops and campgrounds, plus gas prices and directions to more than 2,000 charging stations. Waze (Android; iPhone; select BlackBerry, Nokia and Windows phones) records its users' locations, their speed and other info to create a constantly updated map with traffic jams, speed traps and construction delays.
Get off-road: When you tire of gas-station hot dogs and billboard scenery, stretch your cramped legs on hiking trails pinpointed with Sierra Club Trail Explorer (iPhone).
Tell Goby (Android, iPad, iPhone) what you want - food, hiking, family fun - and it lists the options nearby. It can sort options by distance, date or price, or via your "fun feed," a list tailored to your interests (entered manually or by syncing with Facebook).
TripIt (Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, Windows Phone) lets you create an itinerary that you can share with others and syncs it with your phone's calendar. To add to your itinerary, simply forward confirmation emails for hotels, restaurants and entertainment to the app.
Sleep cheap: To book last-minute lodging and get generous discounts of up to 60 percent, use Priceline's Negotiator App (Android, iPad, iPhone). For spur-of-the-moment detours into the city, download Hotel Tonight (Android, iPad, iPhone). You can find discounts up to 70 percent on hotels in 35 cities.
In case of emergency: Nationwide (Android, iPhone) includes a form for recording and exchanging post-accident info, GPS to log the accident location and instructions on how to take photos of the damage. Nationwide customers can use the app to start filing right away.
Original Print Headline: Apps help make travel easy
Susannah Snider is a staff writer at Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. To send her a question or comment, go to tulsaworld.com/kiplingerfeedback.